Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Good Hair Day

May 1961

Stuart Sutcliffe is spending less and less time playing overnights with the Beatles and more and more time in his circle of artist friends.  The young friends - called the "exis", short for existentialists - are deeply influenced by French art and culture.  They are children of the very regimented WWII generation and are searching for novel ways of expressing their individuality as far as possible from their parents' failed approach to living.  They love French cinema and fashion and they incorporate what they see as much as possible into their own lives.

                         Trailer for "The 400 Blows" by Francois Truffuat

This cultural movement is the real source of the "Beatle haircut".  It is a style picked up by fashion conscious German kids in imitation of au courant French styles.  They also pick up collarless jackets, corduroy pants, and lots of leather from the same source.  Stuart asks Astrid to style his hair in the casual brushed forward way, instead of piled high in the greasy rebel without a cause style.  The German kids called it "Pilsenkopf", that is "mushroom head" style. :-)

The Beatles are hysterical when they first see it.  Especially the acid tongued wit John Lennon, who immediately begins poking fun at it.  It is always the way.  New styles, by definition, are meant to shock and draw attention, and artist Stuart is comfortable being on the leading edge.  Could it be that the Beatles are learning an important lesson about being there, too?

I can't resist putting in this video which admittedly has a very peripheral relevance to this topic, just as a tribute to French culture and its creations.  Enjoy.  (No wonder John Lennon is obsessed with her!)

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